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Bridging Cultures

  • Immigrants are coming to the United States from: Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, China, Korea, etc. (1).
  • The “most diverse place on the planet” might be the Los Angeles School District where over 80 different languages are spoken (2).
  • Need for “social understanding that goes beyond the relatively superficial aspects of culture often addressed in multicultural education, such as major holidays, religious customs, dress and foods... Missing is a deeper kind of understanding- social ideals, values and behavioral standards that shape [the child]" (2).
  • “A critical step in making schools places where all children can learn is for educators to first see how their own cultural values operate in their classroom- from how they expect children to take part in discussions to whether they expect classroom materials to be shared or used universally” (2).
  • What we need to do is identify and then find ways to bridge these cultural differences


2 Contrasting Value Systems:

Independence vs. Conterdependence

  • US=Individualistic, but immigrants are often collectivist
  • US parents want independent children, but collectivist societies see “children’s primary role as contributing members to the family unit” (4).
  • “Children in [collectivist] societies are less likely to be asked to formulate and share their opinions or to talk about what they are learning in schools” (5).
  • “The self expression children commonly exhibit toward adults in much of American society would be interpreted as a lack of proper respect in a collectivist society” (5).
  • “While collectivist cultures tend to teach to the whole group and allow students to learn from each other, individualistic societies tend to focus on the individual and emphasize individual responsibility for learning, even when instruction is given to the whole group” (6).
  • “Unaddressed, these conflicts can cause children to become alienated from their parents or from school [but] solutions suggest themselves once you see the cultural source of the conflict” (9).
  • “An important component of successful communication with parents is taking a partnership approach speaking in terms of ‘how can we meet the needs of students’ instead of ‘what you need to do with your child’” (14).


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